By David J. Gosman, CEO, pcAmerica
The words “Big Data” conjure up images of giant computers, workers buried under reams of reports, and large data warehouses, but the reality is that Big Data can work for even the smallest restaurant and retailer. Big Data is an invaluable resource for retailers whose robust point of sale (POS) systems already capture a lot of useable information, whether they know it or not. The issue isn’t collecting the data — it’s what to do with it after it’s captured, because many end users don’t know how to make this data work for them.
Big Data is translating into big business for some IT companies. One published report projects that the Big Data industry will grow up to 30 percent and could hit $50 billion by 2017. Although the traditional Big Data project could be a multi-phase proposal, VARs can empower their clients with this information and create action plans using the technology they already have in place.
Dealers and resellers who want to capture some of the Big Data market should consider adding a “Big Data” expert to their staff and sell this service to their clients. The Big Data expert would assist stores and restaurants in effectively collecting this data and interpreting their POS system’s reports. Once the work has been completed, the VAR’s analyst can turn that information into a list of recommendations or an action plan that would help expand the business, help it operate more efficiently, and reduce overhead expenses.
How can this happen? First, make sure your clients are capturing the right data for planning purposes. For example, stores often have a “gut feeling” about when it’s time to stock the shelves with seasonal items, or identify which products are going to be hot sellers and which ones are going to collect dust. Having the sales data to assist with inventory planning takes the guesswork out of timing, stocking, and ordering. Knowing which products are flying off the shelves — and when — can help owners arrange their stores more effectively.
Big Data can also be an important tool when a store or restaurant is introducing a new product. It’s easier for a store to introduce new product lines or items to customers who already buy similar items. If there is a set of dedicated customers who love a certain product, and a new addition to the line or something similar is announced, retailers can launch a mini campaign or send targeted emails and mailings to these people. In order to do so, you just match up past purchases with the associated customers, or you could ask a POS system to do it for you instead.
Big Data is also helpful when it comes time to do internal scheduling and planning. Store owners and managers can ensure that their businesses run at optimal efficiency and the lowest possible cost by evaluating and comparing reports. For example, managers can analyze each sales shift report to determine which are the busiest times and compare that with how many people were working each shift. Using this information, stores can see when they are understaffed and encourage additional sales during historically busy days and times. Conversely, if someone sees they have too many people scheduled during a slow period, the amount of manpower can be reduced.
Having a professional on staff who can analyze Big Data also comes in handy when your clients are testing different business models or incentive plans to see which one is the most effective. Most retail stores do not offer commissions, but they may decide to implement a plan (or change an existing one) to see if it makes a difference in the number of sales and level of customer satisfaction.
Once the new or changed commission structure is in place, the VAR’s Big Data expert could teach the business owner or manager how to track this information in a “before and after” model, so they could see the difference in performance of no commissions versus commission rewards or an old commission plan versus a new one.
Retailers that want to step up their operations and enhance their businesses often need to look no further than their existing investment and consult with their dealer on how to make it work even better for them.
Most stores and restaurants already have POS solutions in place that will collect data, with that function unused. VARs can offer their Big Data analytics services to turn this information into tangible improvements that could streamline operations and make their clients more profitable. Before recommending costly new solutions for small retailers with limited budgets, it’s better to use what’s already there to assist clients in improving their bottom lines.
Founded in 1985, pcAmerica has been providing computerized point of sale software solutions to the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries. With over 50,000 users worldwide, pcAmerica offers point of sale solutions including Cash Register Express™ and Restaurant Pro Express™.